By Anita Graafland
With Bev and I switching duties this month, I promised to have a stab at the next couple of pages of that awful marketing waffle called “The benefits of Brexit: How the UK is taking advantage of leaving the EU.” I was already a great admirer of the sheer amount of work Bev manages to put in every single newsletter, but having ploughed through only two pages of this drivel, I am in awe.
Not possessing the same amount of patience and having no time to do a lot of research, I’ve gone about it in a slightly different way: I’m giving you sections from the mere two pages I covered with my unedited and sometimes snarky comments, just from my perspective as an EU-based relative outsider looking in – if one with a great love for Cornwall and all my UK friends.
“A great part of the sovereign character of a nation is its ability to manage its own money and set its own taxes.
- That’s strange. Didn’t you have this ability before? I know for a fact that the Dutch government has always been able to manage its own money and I happen to be proud to pay a lot more in income tax than do my UK friends, so how did that happen if we’re not allowed to make our own rules within the EU?
We now have control over all aspects of our fiscal policy, the way we procure and how we grant subsidies.
- Please explain how this is different to what it was when you were still in the EU? There have always been major differences between my country and yours in all three areas.
Free from prescriptive EU rules, we can unite and level-up the country in a way which suits our own needs.”
- Whose needs? I’ve never seen a country as disunited as the UK, with all its wealth concentrated at the top and a level of poverty I’ve been unable to find anywhere in my own country.
“No longer paying EU Budget contributions. Leaving the EU has meant that the UK has not had to contribute to the significant new liabilities arising from the EU’s Covid response including, for the first time, the EU’s borrowing of up to €750 billion between 2021–24.
- Interesting. So the UK didn’t spend lots of money on their Covid response? Or waste it on Track & Trace programmes that never properly worked? Also, the most affected regions of the EU will receive this funding, it’s not as if it has vanished into thin air. Doesn’t the UK borrow money to pay for its spending, like every other country does?
We have instead directed our own spending and built our own response tailored to our domestic needs including through the furlough scheme and vaccine procurement.
- And how is this different from what EU countries have done?
We are able to spend our money on our domestic priorities, improving our NHS, levelling up and achieving net zero.”
- You always were able to spend your money on domestic priorities, improving the NHS, levelling up and achieving net zero, but you never have. Why is this presented as an opportunity?
“£57 billion more for our NHS. We are spending more money on our NHS. By the 2024–2025 financial year our yearly expenditure on our NHS is projected to be £57 billion higher in cash terms than we spent in 2016 –17, or over £1 billion more per week.”
- Then why is your health service such a shambles? Why did I have to wait three months for an urgent gynaecology appointment, whereas it took one phone call to my GP in Amsterdam to get me scheduled for surgery at an Amsterdam city hospital the week after? I agree there’s a great deal to improve in the NHS, but EU countries seem able to offer excellent health service while being part of the EU. Why wasn’t the UK?
Three paragraphs to the seven pages Bev did in her earlier piece and I’m screaming with frustration. I’ll be very happy to pass the baton back to her in the next issue, and to just deal with things that don’t make me this angry.